CORVALLIS, Ore. - In recent years, medical advances in veterinary care have come so far - they've nearly paralleled that of humans - and so have some of the bills! So how much would you be willing to dish out to keep your animal alive? It's a question that many pet owners are finding tough to face.
At Oregon State University's animal hospital, a couple from Seattle recently took their 8-year-old dog "Twiggy" for a special procedure needed to save the dog's life. A cardiologist veterinarian would thread a small balloon through the jugular vein to a point inside Twiggy's heart. There the balloon would be inserted inside a collapsing valve and then inflated to help the blood flow freely.
The procedure is costly. When all is said and done, the pet owners will spend close to $6,000 to save their pet. They say, however, they'd spend a lot more if necessary.
"I'd sell the house. I'd eat Top Ramen for the next five years," said Twiggy's owner. "Whatever it took."
Veterinarians say that so many problems that 20 years ago would have meant "putting down" a pet can now be fixed today.
"The advances have paralleled the human side (advances) completely," said cardiology veterinarian David Sisson.
"They can spend thousands of dollars," said Dr. Lee Herold, also of OSU. "Thousand meaning anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands."
That raises the question - if you can save your pet's life, how much would you, or should you, spend?
"People do have limitations," says Enid Traisman.
Traisman is the founder of the Pet Loss Support Program at Dovelewis in Portland. She says these days she often counsels pet owners who are not only suffering from grief but also guilt.
"Yes, they feel an enormous amount of regret and guilt that they weren't able to do everything that was medically possible because they had financial limitations," Traisman said.
So, where should a pet owner draw the line?
Traisman says in addition to considering your finances, you should also consider your pet's quality of life. Ask yourself, are you extending the pet's life for your own benefit or theirs? She also says if you can't afford a multi-thousand dollar surgery, look at all the options and do the best you can. Then, feel good that you tried.
Traismain also recommends that pet owners create a saving fund for medical emergencies. She says you can also think about getting pet insurance, which can cover up to 80 percent of the cost of medical treatment for your pet.